People quite often ask me what I do for a living. “I’m a writer,” I say. “A writer, storyteller, consultant, developer, facilitator, and educator.” By this time, most of my questioners are sorry they have asked and more-or-less-politely turn away. A few smile in recognition because they too spin a living seemingly out of nothing.
Peter Koenig, author of the excellent 30 Lies About Money, says something like this (I paraphrase): The idea that you should spend your life earning money in order to obtain the resources to pay for the lifestyle you want, is one of the great myths. You are not here to earn a living – you are here to live. That means doing what you dream of and bringing your whole self to what you do. There is no guarantee that this will make you rich. Indeed, you may not have everything that you want, but you will have everything that you need.
Over the past ten years, I have been learning the truth behind these words. There is no substitute for following your bliss and no excuse the soul will accept for refusing the call. As Joseph Campbell says in The Hero With A Thousand Faces, “It is only those who know neither an inner call, nor an outer doctrine whose plight is truly desperate…”
I used to have a job (and a job-title) that labelled me more neatly: policeman. Of course, it didn’t adequately describe how I filled my waking hours but it did seem easier for most people to understand. In recent years, however, I’ve become a dilettante: I do what I love. In return, the world somehow offers me enough paid work to cover the rent and enough unpaid work to fill several lifetimes.
And if this talk of love, bliss and soul all sounds a bit romantic or new-agey, if you are inclined to dismiss the idea that you are entitled to make such a life-choice, then you might like to think about a different question: “Whose life are you living?”